Before it’s all over, my final meandering, disjointed thoughts from my perch here on the island of misfit voters:
Vote. It’s easy for most to know for whom to vote. It’s still hard for some, I know. But pick one. Or write in. Just do it; you’ll feel better.
Some things in this election that have made me go, “hmmm”:
Amazed at how people really don’t want to hear anything that contradicts what they already believe. I guess I’ve known of this phenomenon, but I’ve never seen it so clearly at work before this past year. I’ve pictured it as people happily waiting in line for a popular amusement park ride, then getting on, getting strapped in, and refusing to listen to cautions — it might not have been inspected! You paid way too much for that ride! Whatever. Lots of “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” as the ride speeds off, with laughing, oblivious riders. I have an extra something inside that most people I’ve talked with this year don’t seem to have. I want to hear points of view that differ from my own. See, I can be mistaken sometimes. I have no illusion that people who think differently than I are evil or stupid. I appreciate new information. I feel nearly alone in that perspective. Not that I wouldn’t still go on the ride. I’d just like to know what the ones who chose not to stand in the line know.
During the primaries, I had my candidate all picked out. In fact, I picked him in 2004, and I predicted that he’d be elected this year. And I was thrilled. Then I lost the thrill. BUT, I am still tickled by how thrilled and excited most of my friends are. It’s GOOD to be passionate about something this important. Frankly, I envy you that passion. I hope I get it again someday.
If the candidate about whom you’re passionate is elected, I whole-heartedly congratulate you — and him — and I hope that he is humble in victory, and that his opponent is gracious in defeat. And that both the humility and the grace last through the next four years. Can you imagine? That’s how our country might rise to a position of honor again.
I hope the hatred of the president that has been in fashion these past few years goes out of fashion to stay. Thinking back over my nearly fifty years, sometimes I’ve voted for the winner, sometimes not. And I have never had one second of hating the president. This is another thing I’ve had a hard time getting my mind around. I was pissed at Nixon in the wake of Watergate (too young to vote then), and disgusted with Clinton in the “it depends on what your definition of is is” days, but I didn’t hate them. I thought they made poor choices, that were not in their best interest, nor that of the nation. But in my job, on any given day, I might make a poor choice. I understand how that can happen. I saw, and still see, what they brought to the job that was of value. Great value. It’s a really tough job. Some have argued that only seriously character-flawed individuals would seek it. I think there’s some truth to that. Both the excellence and the cracks will likely become apparent in the new president. And I think he’ll do fine.
And I wonder what the people (many, many people) who’ve spent so much emotional energy hating George Bush will do with all that energy?! Seriously, if it were now converted into something more productive than hatred, than verbal vitriol, imagine the good that could be accomplished. I hope we get to see that.
I don’t share the high stress level that many people are talking about today. I’m excited for the exercise of freedom, for the historic occasion, for the new beginning. But not stressed. MainlineMom twittered today that her faith is not in politicians. I think that’s why I’m not stressed, too. It’s the “peace that passes understanding,” that scripture talks about. And that has often been so elusive to me. But I think that is what I have, now. It’s not a bad place to be. Read more about this Christian perspective, if you’re so inclined: Philippians 4:4-7. (And the two verses following that, 8 and 9, might be my very favorites and the ones I tell myself most often.)
Another thing that struck me about this election was how many people wrote about feeling differently toward their friends, colleagues, neighbors once they realized those people didn’t share their political views. Again, my mind doesn’t go that way. I’ve never had any expectation of my friends sharing my political views. Many of my family don’t share my views, nor I theirs. My friendship with you is about how you treat me and how I treat you; how I talk about you when you’re not around, and how you talk about me. The fact that I rejoice when something wonderful happens to you, and cry or cuss when something awful happens, and you do the same for me and mine. And we could do that our whole lives without ever discussing politics for one moment. Probably about half the country will vote differently from me today; I’m still glad you’re here, thankful for what you bring. Just one more curiosity I noted during this election season.
As NessaLee posted on Twitter this morning, the new President will be up to his eyeballs in trouble from day one. This really is the time to come together as Americans, if ever there has been a time. I pledge my support to the winner. “Support” meaning I’ll look for the good, and that’s what I’ll focus on; I’ll look for what I can personally do to make things better; I won’t expend energy on hatred and ridicule, I’ll actively seek ways to put the energy to better use. And I’ll pray that the President and his advisors have wisdom, courage and serenity.
Congratulations and every blessing to you (and us), Mr. President-elect, whomever you are.